Architect Galal Mahmoud designs breathtakingly beautiful hotels and resorts for luxury travel. The award-winning international architect who designed the new Sofitel resort in Morocco shares his insights on travel and tells us about his favorite holiday home in Mykonos.
Galal Mahmoud design
HOW DOES TRAVELING INFLUENCE YOUR WORK?
Whenever we sign up for a new job, I will try and catch a plane to a new destination related in one way or the other to the type of job and challenges we will have to tackle. We signed up for the renovation of a landmark 19th century palace in upper Egypt on the Nile. I am therefore planning to visit recently renovated palaces in Europe and Asia. I will probably start with Italy and then Rajasthan in India.
HOW HAS TRAVELING CHANGED YOU?
I have been traveling with my parents since the age of four throughout Europe and mainly on the Mediterranean coast line. Traveling definitively has awakened my never-ending curiosity and broadened my exposure to different cultures and environments. This has had and is still having a strong influence in my work and in the way I read and understand new environments I design projects in.
WHAT KIND OF TRAVELER ARE YOU?
I tend to become more and more demanding in terms of comfort and quality. I guess age has taken its toll on the extensive flight hours.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 TRAVEL ESSENTIALS?
A good book, preferably about the destination to immerse myself fully, an extensive playlist, and contacts of locals that can help me immerse into the destination’s life styles.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE YOUR NEXT DESTINATION?
I have it all planned according to a very long bucket list, although, of course, there is always the last minute plan that is full of surprises. But as long as a place is culturally diverse, bewildering and beautiful, I will hop on a plane and go visit.
Galal Mahmoud design
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO EXPLORE A NEW CITY?
Depending on which city, I pinpoint important things to see on a map and link the rest by walking or by just getting lost between each if the city is safe. I also like to stop by cafes to get a flavor of the local habits and colors. My favorite indulgences are early morning coffee in a typical café with the local newspaper and late afternoon drinks in one of the old hotel palaces of the city.
WHICH DESTINATIONS ARE MOST MEMORABLE FOR YOU?
Paris remains magical for me at any time of the day. It is so diversified; and after 30 years of knowing it, I still always discover. new things there. But my favorite place in the world is our family retreat on the island of Mykonos. I have been going there for the past 40 years and it is where I feel totally relaxed and in contact with my favorite natural environment, the Mediterranean sea that lies beneath the house.
GALAL MAHMOUD’S FAVORITE CITIES
Rio de Janeiro
WHERE IN THE WORLD CAN YOU FIND THE MOST CREATIVE INSPIRATION?
Sitting by the sea in a typical sea shore Greek taverna having a glass of ouzo, white cheese, tomatoes and Greek olives on a secluded island.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE TRIP.
My first visit to the island of Bali 16 years ago was short, but I was blown away by the simple quality of the traditional Balinese architecture where you live in complete symbiosis with nature around you and where every viewpoint seems to be framed by nature. It is the essence of ecological living since all the materials are sourced locally, and this produces the necessary environment for harmonious living.